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Five Tips for Sharing the Roads With Large Trucks in Illinois

Not all trucking accidents are preventable, but there are things drivers can do to improve their safety while sharing the roads with tractor-trailers.

Collisions involving tractor-trailers and smaller, passenger automobiles are all too common on the roads throughout the state of Illinois. In fact, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports there were 11,301 trucking accidents across the state in 2016 alone. Due to the significant difference in size between such vehicles, these types of accidents often result in serious injuries or death for those involved. Although people may not be able to prevent all such wrecks, there are things they can do when sharing the road with large trucks to help improve their safety.

Be Aware of Limited Maneuverability

Due to their size and weight, tractor-trailers are not as easy to maneuver as cars. For example, truck operators may have to swing their vehicles wide or initiate a turn from a middle, as opposed to the far right, lane to make a safe turn. Drivers are advised to keep the limitations of these vehicles in mind and to refrain from attempting to squeeze by large commercial vehicles that have their turn signals on.

Allow Extra Space

Unlike smaller passenger automobiles and performance cars that can stop on a dime, fully-loaded commercial trucks require a much greater stopping time and distance. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration points out that tractor-trailers may need the distance of nearly two football fields to stop safely when traveling at highway speeds in good conditions. When sharing the road with these vehicles, people should be patient and allow them an extra berth.

Stay Out of the Blind Spots

Tractor-trailers, busses and other large commercial vehicles have large blind spots that extend up to 20 feet to the front and 30 feet to the rear, as well as along both sides. When motorists are in these areas, or "no zones" as they are often referred to, the truck drivers may not be able to see their vehicles. Therefore, drivers should use care to stay out of these areas if they can or to move through them as quickly as possible.

Be Cautious When Passing

Passing tractor-trailers is one of the most hazardous maneuvers drivers can perform while sharing the road. Motorists, who may be in a truck's blind spot, should ensure they can see the driver in the truck's side mirror before attempting to pass. In addition, motorists should be able to see the truck in their rear view mirror before they merge back into the right lane. Further, it is recommended that motorists make sure there is enough available road in front of the truck to safely complete the maneuver. Drivers should avoid situations in which they move in front of a tractor-trailer and then suddenly slow or stop as this may result in rear-end collisions.

Avoid Distractions

Engaging in distracting behaviors while driving is always dangerous; however, it may be more hazardous for motorists when sharing the road with commercial trucks. Particularly when traveling alongside tractor-trailers and other large vehicles, it is advisable that people refrain from talking on the phone, texting or otherwise taking their focus off the task of driving. This may help ensure they are alert and able to respond to changes in the driving conditions, hazards or other situations, which may prevent some serious trucking accidents.

Seeking Legal Counsel

When people in Illinois are injured as a result of truck accidents, they may require extensive medical treatment, as well as time off work to recover. Consequently, they may incur unexpected medical bills and lose income. Under some circumstances, though, the truck operator or trucking companies involved may be held liable for these and other resulting damages. Thus, those who have suffered injuries in trucking collisions may find it helpful to discuss their rights and options with an attorney to learn more about pursuing financial compensation.

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